WHO Sasakawa Health Prize awarded to Morhan [2008/06/18]
Commemorative statue presented by Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General [left]
The 2008 Award Presentation Ceremony for the World Health Organization's (WHO) Sasakawa Health Prize was held at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 22nd. Chairman Yohei Sasakawa of the Nippon Foundation presented USD 40,000 in prize money and a commemorative statuette to the winner, the Brazil-based Movimento de Reintegracao das Pessoas Atingidas pela Hanseniase (Morhan), which supports and promotes the cause of individuals recovering from leprosy. (Photo: Members of Morhan in Rio de Janeiro)
The Sasakawa Health Prize, which honors individuals and groups that make innovative contributions in the field of health and sanitation, was this year awarded Morhan for its work to winning social acceptance in Brazil society for those recovering from leprosy. Brazil is still considered endemic by the WHO.
Established in 1984 to advance the goals of the WHO's Health for All initiative, the WHO Sasakawa Health Prize is presented to individuals and organizations that contribute to health promotion and primary healthcare. From 1985 through 2008, the prize has been awarded to 20 groups and to 29 individuals.
As a private-sector organization, Morhan engages in sustained efforts to control leprosy in cooperation with Brazil's Ministry of Health. These broad-ranging activities include prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and activities intended to win societal acceptance for individuals recovering from leprosy. Morhan undertakes both educational and informational services designed to fight bias and discrimination. The group has also established a community center to prevent the spread of leprosy and has helped the Brazilian government establish laws safeguarding the human rights of individuals recovering from leprosy. (Photo: Members of Morhan make frequent visits to leprosy facilities)
In 1988 Morhan held 12 academic conferences to address issues faced by individuals recovering from leprosy. Over the years 1986 through 1988, it also took part in establishing a new constitution for Brazil. The organization also provides continuing support for thalidomide patients, the disabled, and the socially disadvantaged.
“We hope this prize will encourage Morhan to do even more,” said Chairman Sasakawa at the Awards Presentation Ceremony, praising Morhan's work.
Morhan member and recovering leprosy patient Torres gave a speech on receiving the prize, describing the organization's joy at receiving the prize and emphasizing its plans to continue working to promote respect for those recovering from the disease.
“We will continue to fight discrimination against leprosy patients,” he said. (Photo: Chairman Sasakawa delivers a congratulatory speech)
According to the WHO, the Democratic Republic of the Congo successfully brought leprosy under control as of the end of 2007. WHO defines success as a rate of infection of below one case per 10,000 population. Today, only three nations – Mozambique, Nepal, and Brazil – have yet to bring leprosy under control. (Photo: Torres delivers a speech on Morhan's receiving the prize)